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Old 06-23-2012, 03:58 PM   #1
daver
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A Universal Disappointment

We went to Universal studios for the first time this past trip and as a family we were not blown away. While the rides are great for the most part.. here is what we found:
1) Staff for the most part were uninterested in even acting like they were happy.
2) Size limitations on rides.... okay so I have some extra weight for my body size... I should be 6'2" for my weight and I'm 5'5"...lol... but I could not ride on Harry Potter? ... the newest ride they have?... I guess they don't look at the stats for average body weight at Universal.. or care.
3) You have to buy your fastpass? Man I would be mad if I did buy it, only to find out 1 ride had a 15 -20 min wait, the rest were fine.

To sum it up, for the $700.00 I paid for a family of 5 to go for 2 days, we were less than thrilled with the "wow" factor... it was more of a "wth?".... I will not do it again... nuff said.
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Old 06-23-2012, 04:44 PM   #2
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We visited Universal for the first time this year. DH wanted to visit Harry Potter. Because there were comparatively inexpensive rates at Universal's onsite hotels, we decided to stay at Royal Pacific. Our room keys gave us the right to preferred entry on most rides, and 1 hour advance entry to Islands of Adventure (Harry Potter).
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Old 06-23-2012, 04:55 PM   #3
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OP, I'd say your experience pretty much reflects our own. I know a lot of folks (my 30 yr old DD included) who really enjoy the thrill rides there. But we were underwhelmed. So we just plan our week at WDW now and are content.
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:18 PM   #4
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A family member just returned from a trip. They spent most days at WDW and just one at Universal IOA. Her comment about IOA: "It's just not Disney!".
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:21 PM   #5
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We also were underwhelmed with Universal. I am a HUGE HP fan and just had to go see Hogwarts and the Castle etc. That portion did not dissapoint, the architecture alone was worth it for me. We used a touring strategy suggested by a lot of people in the Universal thread (WWHP first thing, leave after it starts to get busy and then head back in the early afternoon as people as starting to go to the other areas of the park) and it was amazing. BUT, the rest of the park was mediocre at best. I love log flume rides and I thought Dudley Do Right was crappy, the water stunk too. I think part of it is I have no emotional ties to any of the Universal characters like Spiderman or Dagwood or even Cat in the Hat. I know that is a big part of Disney for me, it is my childhood dreams come to life. I also felt the same as you did about the staff, hardly a smile and it seemed they didnt want to be there at all. It would take a lot for me to go back, I really dont know if I ever would unless they added on to the Potter part.
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:23 PM   #6
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I don't consider my trip complete if I don't visit UO. I love the thrill rides and the theming at IOA is on par with Disney. Mostly because it was built by ex imagineers from Disney that Eisner fired. With the advent of the internet and message boards people seem to get their backs up about Universal not being up to par before they go because of the war over which park is better. Disney Parks are obviously much bigger and better, but Universal has really been putting the pressure on the mouse to do something.

Sorry your experience wasn't great OP. Staff at all of the parks and humanity in general are getting a little more rude these days.

The thing with UO is if you don't like thrill rides it is pretty slim pickings. I don't take my kids when I go for that reason. I usually tell others the same thing. Glad you enjoyed the rest of your trip though. As much as i love UO, nothing beats the magic of the mouse.
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:57 PM   #7
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We had a GREAT experience at Universal and IOA in January. We loved the more grown-up feel of the two parks, and thought the staff were incredible (one fellow in Mel's Diner was sooo wonderful, my DS actually said "holy crap, he's even nicer than the people at Disney!").

We loved the front of the line passes (we went during New Years week and the crowds were quite heavy.....yet we got in rides in 5-10 minutes when standby times were in excess of an hour). It made us feel like VIP's. We enjoyed that priority access so much, we commented that it would be tough to enjoy the Fastpass system again when the Express Pass was so much easier (and free for onsite hotel guests ).

We thought the character photo ops were so much better as well. No huge lines to walk up and get photos. And the staff with the characters were AWESOME at offereing to take multiple pics with our own camera (which all turned out great) so there was no need to buy expensive photos from Universal.

If you are looking for thrill rides as opposed to family rides, the Universal parks win hands down.

Lots of awesome theming at Universal as well. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is incredible. Seuss Landing is so fun and whimsical.

Don't get me wrong.....we LOVED Disney. When we decided to visit Universal, IOA, SeaWorld and DC on our most recent trip, we wondered if we would miss the "magic" of Disney. It just wasn't so. We actually came home wondering....why don't more people visit the other awesome parks in Orlando? Why are so many folks 100% stuck on Disney and only Disney?

Out of all of the parks (MK, DHS, AK, Epcot, Universal, IOA, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove) I would say my two faves would be SeaWorld and DC. We found the customer service and staff (plus the cleanliness, the theming, and the "wow" factor) at the competitor parks to be as good (and in some cases better) than what we encountered at some of the Disney parks. We could easily recommend them ALL.

Now I will .... 'cause I know these sentiments are not always welcome!!
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! **August 2014 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 06-23-2012, 09:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina View Post
We had a GREAT experience at Universal and IOA in January. We loved the more grown-up feel of the two parks, and thought the staff were incredible (one fellow in Mel's Diner was sooo wonderful, my DS actually said "holy crap, he's even nicer than the people at Disney!").

We loved the front of the line passes (we went during New Years week and the crowds were quite heavy.....yet we got in rides in 5-10 minutes when standby times were in excess of an hour). It made us feel like VIP's. We enjoyed that priority access so much, we commented that it would be tough to enjoy the Fastpass system again when the Express Pass was so much easier (and free for onsite hotel guests ).

We thought the character photo ops were so much better as well. No huge lines to walk up and get photos. And the staff with the characters were AWESOME at offereing to take multiple pics with our own camera (which all turned out great) so there was no need to buy expensive photos from Universal.

If you are looking for thrill rides as opposed to family rides, the Universal parks win hands down.

Lots of awesome theming at Universal as well. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is incredible. Seuss Landing is so fun and whimsical.

Don't get me wrong.....we LOVED Disney. When we decided to visit Universal, IOA, SeaWorld and DC on our most recent trip, we wondered if we would miss the "magic" of Disney. It just wasn't so. We actually came home wondering....why don't more people visit the other awesome parks in Orlando? Why are so many folks 100% stuck on Disney and only Disney?

Out of all of the parks (MK, DHS, AK, Epcot, Universal, IOA, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove) I would say my two faves would be SeaWorld and DC. We found the customer service and staff (plus the cleanliness, the theming, and the "wow" factor) at the competitor parks to be as good (and in some cases better) than what we encountered at some of the Disney parks. We could easily recommend them ALL.

Now I will .... 'cause I know these sentiments are not always welcome!!
I couldn't agree more. We just don't compare the two (Disney and Universal) because they have a different feel altogether. We enjoy both but on the Disney portion of our trip my kids and my husband asked to go back to Universal for a day part way through the week!
We have annual passes to both and love different things about both places.

I am sorry you didn't have a good experience OP. If you can ever be talked into it again staying onsite is the way to go. The front of the line option for onsite guests is just a dream and I much prefer it to fast pass.
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:38 PM   #9
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We love, love, love Universal!!!! We always stay onsite so that we get unlimited express passes. We can do so for less than the deluxes at Disney and that means we can walk to both parks. We prefer the rides there and prefer the atmosphere. It is great that there is something for everyone in Orlando.

Many of the employees at Universal also work at Disney. I haven't found much difference between the employees at the parks.
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Old 06-23-2012, 09:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daver View Post
2) Size limitations on rides.... okay so I have some extra weight for my body size... I should be 6'2" for my weight and I'm 5'5"...lol... but I could not ride on Harry Potter? ... the newest ride they have?... I guess they don't look at the stats for average body weight at Universal.. or care.
My DH is 6' 3.5" tall and 280 pounds. Not a small fellow, nor anywhere close to what would be considered an "average" size. He had no problem fitting on any of the rides at the Universal parks, including Forbidden Journey (the feature ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

He even fit on the kids rides in Seuss Landing (though we made sure he had his own car on the High In The Sky Trolley Train Ride! ).
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! **August 2014 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 06-23-2012, 10:02 PM   #11
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when did Universal start charging for fast passes?
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:05 PM   #12
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both parks nice and one is theme parks and the other is amusement park so two totally different types of rides for every one to enjoy
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:08 PM   #13
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canopynut66 View Post
when did Universal start charging for fast passes?
Just to be sure there's no confusion.....Fastpasses are at Disney. Universal utilizes the Express Pass:

http://www.universalorlando.com/Them...us-Passes.aspx

Guests staying at one of the Universal Orlando onsite hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portofino Bay) receive complimentary unlimited Express Passes as one of the perks of staying onsite. Two days of front of the line access is given for a one night stay....so you would have free Express Pass on both your day of check in as well as your day of check out.

For visitors who are not staying at an onsite hotel, you can purchase Express Passes for your family online (before arrival) or at the park on the day of your visit (if they are still available). If crowds are light enough that they don't warrant the extra expense, then you need not purchase and use the regular standby lines instead.
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! **August 2014 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 06-23-2012, 10:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina View Post
Just to be sure there's no confusion.....Fastpasses are at Disney. Universal utilizes the Express Pass:

http://www.universalorlando.com/Them...us-Passes.aspx

Guests staying at one of the Universal Orlando onsite hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portofino Bay) receive complimentary unlimited Express Passes as one of the perks of staying onsite. Two days of front of the line access is given for a one night stay....so you would have free Express Pass on both your day of check in as well as your day of check out.

For visitors who are not staying at an onsite hotel, you can purchase Express Passes for your family online (before arrival) or at the park on the day of your visit (if they are still available). If crowds are light enough that they don't warrant the extra expense, then you need not purchase and use the regular standby lines instead.


Thanks I thought had to be a difference
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:47 PM   #15
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It's too bad the OP and several others on this thread didn't enjoy it. Our family really enjoyed Universal IOA. We stayed for 1 night at Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel and had a 1-day park ticket. We got front of the line access by being guests at a Universal hotel. (BTW, the hotel itself was gorgeous and our room was fabulous with a huge bathroom.) Our kids really liked the rides at IOA. They were on everything. But they are teenagers, so there were no height restrictions or any hesitancy to go on any ride. They also loved the cool Universal Citywalk area, where we dined at the Hard Rock and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

We didn't compare Universal IOA to Disney at all as we all think it's a very different park with different characters and theme. Harry Potter is unique. As is Dr. Seuss and the action heroes (Spiderman and Hulk).

I must admit though that we didn't put too much money on the Universal portion of the trip - our tickets were redeemed Airmiles and the 1-night hotel stay was redeemed from credit card points. So maybe that added to my and my husband's enjoyment ???
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